My Big Fat Italian...
Kiss the Bride is obviously a film about a wedding, one that could be poised to ride on the coattails of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, though the film obviously was made without knowing about the unlikely success that other Wedding film would have.
As I said, the film centers on an Italian family, but their ethnicity is not such a dominant theme of the movie, merely a background - but I imagine the connection will be played up as the film enters distribution (I saw this a film festival). The approaching nuptials brings about something of a family reunion for the Sposatos in their hometown of Westerly, Rhode Island.
We open with two devices that I have seen so often lately I'm beginning to cringe every time I have to sit through it - the scene snippet from the end of the film placed at the beginning, and the voice over. Just because I'm sick of these things doesn't mean they are inherently poor filmmaking, just that I've seen them used poorly. The voiceover is the more practical of the two here - the four daughters in this family and their various attachments are liable to create confusion in the audience, and the voiceover helps to introduce them expeditiously so we can get into the story proper. As for starting in a flashforward, I feel this is a borderline case - it is helping unite the film thematically, but I think there would have been a thousand other ways to accomplish that. Between the two, the film takes on a viewpoint of a story being told, much like that other, more Greek wedding. It's an accepted and workable perspective, particularly for the topic, but I feel like the feelings are raw enough in the film, another approach could have created more of a feeling of uncertainty, particularly as we approach the end.
Growing up was a charged experience for these three women, who are clearly victims of the birth order phenomenon. First-born, Niki (Brooke Langton) was always perceived as most favored by their parents, but despite an advanced education, and potential as an actress, she has settled for a role on a low brow tv show. Second-born Chrissy (Vanessa Parise, who also wrote and directed) became the hard-driving career gal on Wall Street to prove that she was worthy as well. Our bride, Danni (Amanda Detmer), third-born and the one who never felt the need to leave town. And finally, final child Toni (Monet Mazur) rebelled against the successes of her sisters, embracing a punk rock lifestyle and taking her lesbian lover (Alyssa Milano) back with her on this visit. Throw in the husband-to-be (Sean Patrick Flannery), and Niki's current and old boyfriends, and we have a lot to keep track of, but plenty of places for sparks to fly. And not to forget the parents (Talia Shire and Burt Young), either... That's a fairly impressive cast for an independent film.
Probably the best segment of the whole movie is seeing a segment of Niki's show "Cops on the Beach", a tremendous parody of just how stupid some things on television are.
As an independent film, there's almost always going to be imperfections in the basics of the craft. Early on, I saw a few poorly matched cuts, but there really wasn't that much going wrong. But likewise, there weren't too many chances taken either. Conventional filmmaking is simply cheaper. More problems show up in the script. The pacing could have been more consistent, and sometimes we see the characters taking actions that would seem designed to move the story forward, rather than following from character.
Kiss the Bride is everything My Big Fat Greek Wedding is not - there's real tension and a sense that something is actually at stake. But at the same time, Kiss the Bride does not measure up to the sentimentality that is responsible for My Big Fat Greek Wedding's success. This film is more conventional, and nothing we haven't really seen before - and consequently more forgettable. But honestly, I enjoyed the movie substantially more, a testament to a better script and somewhat better production values. Making the comparison between these two films is too easy and somewhat unfair to both of them, but also (nearly) unavoidable since everyone is going to have question on their lips.
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